Humidity-dependent colour change in the green forester moth, Adscita statices

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The colours of insects serve important visual functions in aiding mate recognition, camouflage and warning. The display of insects is usually static, as cuticle coloration does not (or hardly) change during the lifespan of a mature imago form. Here, we describe a case of humidity-dependent, brilliant coloration in the green forester moth, Adscita statices. We show, by employing spectroscopic and ultrastructural methods, that the moth's colour results from the interference of incident light with an unusual hydrophilic melanized-chitin multilayer present in the wing scales. Humidity changes in the environment affect the multilayer properties, causing a significant shift of the green-peaking reflectance in the dry state to a rusty colour when damp, resulting in the strong colour change between day and dusk or dawn.


External organisations
  • University of Fribourg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Evolutionary Biology


  • body colours, camouflage, colour change, Lepidoptera, photonic nanostructures
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiology letters
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch

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